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Understanding
ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE
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Understanding
BRAIN INJURY
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Understanding
EPILEPSY
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Understanding
MIGRAINE HEADACHE
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Understanding
PARKINSON'S DISEASE
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Understanding
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS
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Understanding
SLEEP DISODERS
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Understanding
STROKE
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Understanding
PARKINSON'S DISEASE

WHAT IS PARKINSON'S DISEASE?
Parkinson's disease is a movement disorder. In people with Parkinson's, a vital chemical in the brain called dopamine is gradually reduced. This brings on symptoms of tremor, slowness in movement, stiff limbs, and walking or balance problems. It progresses slowly, but it is not a fatal illness. Fortunately, treatments can often delay these symptoms for at least five years.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
The main symptoms are:

  • Rigidity-stiffness in arms and legs
  • Tremor-often most noticeable when the limb is at rest
  • Poor balance and coordination
  • Bradykinesia-slowness in initiating movement, which may lead to less facial expression, change in speech pattern, shuffling gait, smaller handwriting, or trouble with fine finger movements

There are also symptoms that may appear later. You will likely not experience all of the symptoms. Symptoms usually appear gradually.

WHAT CAUSES PARKINSON'S DISEASE?
The cause of Parkinson's disease is still unknown. Researchers think that both our genes and our environment may playa role. The disorder is due to a loss of nerve cells in an area deep within the brain called the substantia nigra. This area produces the chemical dopamine. Dopamine helps send signals within your brain. Without the right amount of dopamine, your movements could be impaired.

HOW IS PARKINSON'S DISEASE DIAGNOSED?
There is no definitive lab test or brain scan for Parkinson's disease. Your doctor will make a diagnosis based on all of your symptoms. So it is vital for you to be diagnosed by a doctor experienced in treating the disorder. Neurologists are doctors that can make a diagnosis.

WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS?
Treatment for the symptoms of Parkinson's is usually successful, especially in the early years. But the treatment does not stop the progression or cure the disorder.

A comprehensive treatment plan is the most effective. This includes exercise, good nutrition, and medications. If you do not respond well to medication, surgery may help control your symptoms.

Medications
A neurologist will prescribe therapies tailored to you. But it may take time and patience to identify the medicine and dose that works best.

Side effects can occur. They may include nausea, vomiting, restlessness, and bad dreams. Changing the dosage usually stops the side effects.

Surgery
If your condition has not responded well to drugs, surgery may be an option. Surgery is usually reserved for those people in advanced stages of Parkinson's.

 

 

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PARTNERING WITH YOUR DOCTOR

A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating, and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system. You need your doctor to know all about your symptoms and medical history. Then he or she can be more effective in diagnosing and treating your disorder. Likewise, you need to get answers to your questions. Diagnosing and managing your neurological disorder is a partnership between you and your neurologist.

Questions to ask your neurologist

  • What type of disorder do I have?
  • How will this disorder affect my health?
  • What is the treatment and what will it do?
  • How will this disorder affect my daily Iife and activities?

Understanding your disorder and treatment may make it easier to live with the effects of Parkinson's disease.

For more information or make an appointment, please contact:

Mohsen M. Hamza, M.D.
Neurology Center for Adults & Children

Tel: 310-477-7201
info@neurologycenter.org

Understanding
MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS)

WHAT IS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS (MS)?
MS affects the brain and the spinal cord. It mainly occurs in young adults. In MS, the outside layer of the nerve fibers, called the myelin, is damaged by inflammation, which can lead to scars. This stops the nerve signals from traveling through the brain and spinal cord.

In general, MS is not life threatening. The life span of those with MS is only slightly less than that of the general public.

The disorder affects at least 300,000 people in the United States. The average age of diagnosis is 30. At least twice as many women have MS than men. It is more common in Caucasian people than other races. MS occurs more often in higher latitudes, further from the equator.

WHAT CAUSES MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS?
The cause of MS is unknown. There is evidence that MS is an autoimmune disease. This means your own immune system attacks the central nervous system. The central nervous system is the brain and spinal cord.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
There are several kinds of MS. Most people begin with the relapsing-remitting stage. This means your symptoms come and go. You may feel normal until another relapse, or MS attack, happens. Symptoms usually build up over a period of hours to days. They can last for a few days or weeks and then go away, or remit. Attacks happen at irregular times.

Symptoms include:

  • Vision loss
  • Double vision
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Weakness or fatigue
  • Unsteady walking
  • Partial or complete paralysis

Over time, about 60 percent of people with relapsing-remitting MS develop a secondary form of the disorder. It is called progressive MS. This means your symptoms very slowly worsen, with no remissions. Attacks may still occur. Only about 15 percent of people with MS have a very disabling form called chronic-progressive MS.

HOW IS MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS DIAGNOSED?
The diagnosis is based on a clinical history and examination. If your doctor thinks your symptoms suggest possible MS, he or she may order a magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI). MRI takes pictures of tissues that cannot be seen in regular X-rays. MRI finds tissue disease or injury, such as the damage seen in people with MS.

WHAT ARE THE TREATMENTS?
Right now, there is no prevention or cure for MS. However, this is a promising time for people with the disorder. Several new drugs have been approved or are close to approval. There are three types of treatments. You should talk to your neurologist about which of these treatments is best for you.

Treatments that help reduce disease activity
These drugs can reduce the number of attacks and long-term damage to the brain.

Treatments for the symptoms of MS
These include drugs to decrease muscle stiffness, reduce tiredness, control bladder symptoms, and ease pain.

Treatments for attacks when they occur
These treatments can shorten an MS attack.

 

>> back to top

PARTNERING WITH YOUR DOCTOR

A neurologist is a doctor with specialized training in diagnosing, treating, and managing disorders of the brain and nervous system. You need your doctor to know all about your symptoms and medical history. Then he or she can be more effective in diagnosing and treating your disorder. Likewise, you need to get answers to your questions. Diagnosing and managing your neurological disorder is a partnership between you and your neurologist.

Questions to ask your neurologist

  • What type of disorder do I have?
  • How will this disorder affect my health?
  • What is the treatment and what will it do?
  • How will this disorder affect my daily Iife and activities?

Understanding your disorder and treatment may make it easier to live with multiple sclerosis.

For more information or make an appointment, please contact:

Mohsen M. Hamza, M.D.
Neurology Center for Adults & Children

Tel: 310-477-7201
info@neurologycenter.org

Resources from
American Academy of Neurology
11600 Wilshire Blvd, Ste. 420, West Los Angeles, CA 90025
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